Thesis - Open Access
Bachelor of Arts
That Spenser was regarded as a great poet in his own time is clear from incidental remarks by such eminent critics as Sidney, and later, Milton. Yet they say little about Spenser in depth, so we are left to infer their opinions from theories of good poetry at the time. As had long been the case, poetry's purposes were felt to be to teach and to delight, and Spenser's Faerie Queene evidently fulfilled both of these. Edward Dowden, defending Spenser as a moralist in the late nineteenth century, says of Renaissance poetry: poetry aims at something more than to decorate life; it is spoken of (by people in Spenser's time) as if it possessed some imperial authority, a power to bind and to loose, to sway man's total nature, to calm, to regulate and restain, and also to free, to arouse, to dilate the spirit--power not to titillate a particular sense, but to discipline the will and mould a character.
Mertz, Gretchen, "The Role of the Protagonist in "The Faerie Queene": A Study of the First Three Books" (1980). Honors Papers. 673.